...we are almost ready to fall in love with our own desolation.
(Christina Rossetti, Seek and Find)
Whether height of summer or bleak midwinter, there’s death:
in bare-branched trees or brittle grass.
Fire or frost, the end’s the same,
both killers and destroyers alike.
And the greatest foe of all’s despair,
the sickness blighting not only this
but every future season’s crop.
There’s a sickness that can end in life,
that kills illusions, opens eyes.
Wisest farmers wait their time
and learn the seasons’ darkest signs.
Wiser still the one who turns
despair of here to hope beyond.
We always move around and so
fittingly our Christmas is mobile,
each returning to their homes, like Joseph
and a heavily expectant Mary, carrying
the hope of the world in her womb.
We depart carrying gifts in shopping bags
or catch up on forgotten things at airport stores.
And when we arrive: reunion, but
no birth, Messiah forgotten where we left Him
and hope still swirling at the baggage carousels.
I stubbed my toe on a London bus;
it stood in the doorway, just under us.
And by the door a bright Tonka truck
lay just where an unsuspecting limb got stuck.
And in the night a train might stray
far from its tracks into my way;
and you, dear you, might show up right
when I would rather turn in for the night
yet love is seldom a smooth affair,
and ground is better than ideal air.
True, I’d prefer to not stub my toes,
but love must bleed; that’s the way it goes.
The touseled children
have their own way
their own classification…
(Chris Wallace-Crabbe, “Timber”)
Some are named for likeness
to familiar things: the lemon tree
in Nanna’s garden becomes
a prototype for all other trees
in all other gardens.
And some are named
by analogy or comparison:
big tree, little tree,
special tree; and what
is bottlebrush but a metaphor turned
to proper use?
Yet others gain
the specificity of the eager learner,
like Adam flushed
with the daily discovery of all
living things and growing things,
and as tongue learns it way
around the tangled mechanics of thought,
a surprise clarity: paperbark!
a joyful melaleuca.
began with honeysuckle and clover,
the constants of the winter yet
rendered more redolent by the scents of September
and a bee buzzing about a flowering cactus
and ended with a downpour
that sent me rushing to the clothesline
while my son stood in his raincoat and listened
to the rain
with all things – rain, sun, bee,
child and flowers – held in the same sentence
and each given its time.
I’m very excited to announce that my crowdfunding campaign to publish The Swelling Year is ready to go. It is live now at Pozible.com, and will be there for the next 31 days for you to donate to. Check out the campaign page to find out about project details and rewards. We’re already underway with contributions, and there’s an opportunity for me to expand the first print run for the book if I get more than the budgeted $1250. So please be generous! I’m looking forward to seeing people get on board with a project that is close to my heart and that I hope will be an encouragement to many others.
I’m also excited to share for the first time the cover art designed by the talented Matthew Duncan. Find out more about his work here.